Recent ongoing clashes between insurgents and Kurdish fighters have culminated in a declaration of war in the region of Ifreen, rural Aleppo, in northern Syria. The intensification of clashes in northern Syria comes amid increasing division among Syria’s muddle of armed groups, with one “Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalion” reported to have defected in light of attacks on Kurdish areas. With insurgent groups in Aleppo and elsewhere in the country under increasing pressure from a confident Syrian army, an absence of a political platform and unrelenting in-fighting, a declaration against Kurdish groups comes as no surprise. The number of militant organisations operation in Syria is estimated at between a few hundred to over a thousand.
On 4th May, Syria Report detailed clashes between the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) and militants (including Jabhat al-Nusra) in Al-Hasakah province. Uploaded video footage was later confirmed to show a number of Kurdish armed groups (such as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons) amalgamate under the banner of the YPG, in a coordinated counterattack against militants who are intent on subverting Kurdish autonomy during the crisis gripping the country.
Reports suggest that at the beginning of the month, Arab clans in Til Temir were armed and encouraged by various “Free Syrian Army (FSA)” groups to confront Kurdish groups. Til Temir is a small town of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians situated on the road between Serê Kaniyê and Al-Hasakeh. Seemingly, hit and run attacks have resulted in the deaths of YPG members as well as civilians living in Til Temir, with a population of approximately 7000. Despite repeated skirmishes, the YPG managed to hold off the disparate armed groups.
Yesterday, a statement signed by no less than twenty-one armed groups declared “Kurdish defense units, YPG, are traitors because they are against our Jihad.”
The goal, according to the statement, is a “pending the completion of comprehensive cleansing process”,
liberation from “PKK and Shabiha”.
The statement was published by the “Syrian Islamic Liberation Front“, a coalition of radical Islamist groups, commonly misreported as being under the umbrella of the “Free Syrian Army” despite being at odds with it’s absent leadership, who are mostly based outside of the country.
The statement, titled “Echo of Qussayr“, published against the backdrop of a crushing defeat in the city, was signed by twenty-one groups including Liwa al-Tawheed, Islamic State in the Levant, Al-Furqan Brigades.
Ifreen (Kurdish: Efrîn and/or Afrîn, Arab: عفرين) is a region in the province of Aleppo with a population of around 500,000, as well as a city of the same name with some 80,000 inhabitants.
Thanks to Arabi Souri for translation.